Playing Progressives

Copyright 1997-1998, Jazbo Enterprises
Last Updated -- 6/10/98

Just a word about playing progressives. If you use a standard 9/6 strategy, you can figure the EV fairly accurately for similar machines. The following table gives the expectation for the paying hands (using my basic 9/6 strategy -- other good strategies will be close):

       Hand      Payout  Freq  Contribution 
       Pair J-A     1    21.44%   21.44%	     
       TwoPair      2    12.94%   25.88%
       Trips        3     7.44%   22.33%
       Straight     4     1.24%    4.49%
       Flush        6     1.10%    6.59%
       FullHouse    9     1.15%   10.36%
       Quads       25     0.23%    5.90%
       StrFlush    50     0.011%   0.548%
       RoyalFlush 800     0.0025%  2.013%

Let's consider a 7/5 Jacks machine with a progressive jackpot. You know that standard 9/6 Jacks has an optimal EV of 99.544%. On a 7/5 machine, you will lose 1.10% for the flush (6-5) and 2x1.15% for the full house. This reduces the EV to only 96.144%. To get to break even, you need 3.956% added to the Royal, or 800x3.956/2.013 = 1570 coins. Thus, on a $1 machine with 5 coins max, the jackpot break even is $5x(800+1570) = $11,850.

Of course, when the JP gets this big, major strategy variations become correct, which would lower the break even point considerably. However, I caution about guessing as to what variations you should make. Also, you should be aware that these variations will cost you quite a bit if you don't play long enough to hit the royal (for example, breaking up big pairs for 3 card royals is correct, but will cost you in the short run).

--jazbo